Tuesday, March 22, 2011

White Sox Top 15 Prospects: 2011

Chicago White Sox Top 15 Prospects: 2011 

10) Tyler Flowers
12) Jordan Danks
13) Brandon Short
14) Tyler Saladino

Note about the process: When ranking prospects there are two key factors that weigh in the process - projectability, and upside. I value projectability quite a bit more than a lot of other rankings systems. Therefor toolsy players who've yet to refine their talents into skills will rank lower on my charts than on some others. Please realize this doesn't mean that I don't see someone's inherent talents, or understand what they could become. But given the choice between a player I "know" will contribute at the MLB level, or one that has a chance to be a better one - I'll take the "sure thing." Feel free to agree or disagree with that methodology at your leisure.

Now on to the meat of the subject at hand. The last Top-15 list I wrote up was the Royals. Their system is unfathomably talented and deep. The White Sox on the other hand, is just the opposite. Top prospect Chris Sale is going to be an outstanding reliever, and if given the chance, should be a very good starter at worst. He'd rank toward the top of just about any system in baseball. I like third baseman Brent Morel too. He's an outstanding defender and his bat should play well enough given time to adapt. 
Beyond that however, things get murkier. I went with Addison Reed over Dayan Viciedo partly because I like Reed, and partly because I don't like Viciedo. Reed hasn't had a chance to prove much against equal competition, but his stuff, command, and makeup all impress me and I think he'll move quickly with a chance to be a quality back-end reliever. Viciedo by comparison, can hit. Kind of. You'll have to read the full profile.

Past those four it gets ugly. Players 5-8 all have a chance to contribute to a MLB bullpen. Players 9-15 all have a chance to crack an MLB lineup. A couple have a chance to be good. But for the most part, they all have significant question marks - most related to extreme strikeout rates. 

This is not a great farm system by any means, and it won't be helped by the loss of their 1st round pick as a result of the Adam Dunn signing. Then again, given GM Kenny Williams' style it doesn't really have to be. Williams is a genius in the sense that he routinely flips flawed or over-rated prospects for quality veterans. He's used the strategy for years to keep the White Sox competitive and he's got a pretty shiny trophy to his name that shows it can work.

Indeed, the Sox seem to abhor the draft altogether. They're amongst baseballs most ardent implementers of the slotting system, rarely going above. They make no concerted effort to acquire extra draft picks that I can see, and have no compunction about trading off their best prospects. It's a bold strategy that in most cases, I wouldn't support. But to his credit, Williams makes it work, and ultimately, that's the most important barometer of a systems success.

So yeah, the Sox system is a mess. It's almost certainly one of the games five worst systems overall. And you know what? It doesn't matter.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.

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